A pivotal moment in Virginia’s efforts to reform mental health care

November 19, 2013 Austin “Gus” Deeds, 24, assaulted his father, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville), before local Community Services Board staff failed to serve him Suicide after emergency treatment.

March 2014 Dietz headed the newly formed Joint Subcommittee to Study Commonwealth Mental Health Services in the Twenty-First Century, later known as the Commission on Behavioral Health.

April 28, 2014 Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) then signed into law changes proposed by Deeds.The changes include requiring public hospitals to provide “last-resort beds” for people receiving court-ordered treatment and provide real-time information The registry helps quickly identify open psychiatric beds.

August 19, 2015 Jamycheal Mitchel, 24, was found dead in his cell at a prison in the state’s Hampton Roads area. While off his schizophrenia medication, Mitchell was arrested for stealing a Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra cake, totaling $5.05, from a 7-Eleven in Portsmouth, Virginia. A judge ordered him to seek help at a state mental hospital. But he sat in jail for several months, waiting for a bed to open, and then died.

November 2015 Deeds filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking $6 million. The lawsuit alleges that the state, the Rockbridge Area Community Services Commission and a former mental health evaluator mishandled the critical six-hour window in admitting Deeds’ son on Nov. 18, 2013, displaying gross negligence and malpractice.

2017 The State of Virginia launched the STEP-VA initiative to improve access, quality, and accountability of behavioral health services provided by community service boards.

May 14, 2018 A Richmond police officer shot and killed Marcus David Peters, an unarmed teacher who was in the midst of a mental health crisis, ultimately prompting the city to enact reforms.

October 17, 2018 Deeds settled the wrongful death lawsuit for $950,000.

2019 Between FY 2013 and FY 2019, the number of people court-ordered to be admitted to state hospitals for treatment due to the Beds of Last Resort Act of 2014 increased 389%.

July 9, 2021 The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is temporarily limiting new admissions at five facilities due to staffing shortages. Hospitals reopened in about six weeks with limited patient admissions.

July 28, 2021 Later, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) proposed spending $485 million for Virginia’s behavioral health system, including funding to alleviate unprecedented staffing shortages in the state’s adult mental health hospitals.

June 30, 2022 Due to staffing shortages, 232 state hospital beds remain closed because there are not enough direct nursing staff to operate them.

December 12, 2022 Acute psychiatric bed registries often do not have real-time information, wasting limited staff time and resources, a state report found.

December 14, 2022 Governor Glenn Younkin (R) unveiled the Right Help Now plan to improve the state’s crisis infrastructure.

March 6, 2023 Irvo Otieno, 28, of Henrico County, Virginia, died at Central State Hospital while suffering a mental health crisis. At the hospital, sheriff’s deputies and hospital staff surrounded him, causing him to suffocate, an incident that was captured on video, authorities said. Six months later, the state agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family.

September 14, 2023 Youngkin signed a state budget that includes $200 million to fund reforms including raises for crisis intake centers, mobile crisis units, children’s behavioral health services and Community Services Commission staff.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: